2. A Matter of Time
It was at that time that she received Nenya, the White Ring, from Celebrimbor, and by its power the realm of Lórinand was strengthened and made beautiful; but its power upon her was great and unforeseen, for it increased her latent desire for the Sea and for return into the West, so that her joy in Middle-earth was diminished.
Unfinished Tales, the history of Galadriel and Celeborn by J.R.R. Tolkien
Chapter Two A Matter of Time
Celebrían had not wanted to go to Rivendell, not at the starting out.
She had vividly recalled Eregion, where so many of the Noldor, the Elf lords, had dwelt, and where she had always felt out of place. Missing the innate beauty of her own Lórien, in a community that had cared more about precious metals and jewels than people and nature.
She had expected Imladris to be the same, imagining it being like an army camp, since it had been founded as a refuge. But she had been pleasantly surprised after crossing the Bruinen; finding a place of learning and merrymaking, and the peace and quiet she had missed in Eregion.
The gentle teasing of Gil-galad, and the serious charm of Master Elrond had pleased her more than anything else. Except maybe seeing her father again.
Her mother had… Celebrían wasn't sure what had happened to her mother.
But ever since Celebrimbor had visited them in Lórien, while her father was assembling a force in the west, there had been a change. It was as if Galadriel had lost joy in Middle-earth. The only reason for Celebrían consenting to go with her to Imladris, searching for her father since the war was over, was because of a feeling of worry.
Rather she would have stayed in Lórien.
Yet, arriving here, it seemed to have gone, at least for the time being, making Celebrían wonder if it had ever been truly there.
Much to her dismay, she had overheard her parents talk about leaving though, when they had only just arrived. Again she had heard her mother mention the sea, her father pleading to stay a little longer, here, at Imladris.
They would, for now.
Leaving Imladris would be different from leaving Lórien.
Even the thought made her stomach twitch, depressing her so much she had to go outside; walk by the river and sit under the trees.
Not that she would admit it to anyone but herself.
Admit that she found the way in which she made Elrond son of Eärendil uncomfortable, when she looked at him, attractive.
Seeing him for the first time, he was not what she had imagined.
Gil-galad had met her expectations, but not Elrond; he had impressed her, and she had not anticipated that. She liked his seriousness, but she enjoyed the moments when he lowered the stone façade that covered his face, letting a smile slip through, even more.
It was a silly, adolescent-love she was too old for. It would pass, she could handle it… She could.
But trying not to let it preoccupy her thoughts too often Celebrían joined the daughters of her parent's friends, some of whom she had known in Eregion. And they told her of Sauron and his defeat, sometimes sounding as if they had been present themselves, instead of being safely here in Rivendell.
More often she would slip away alone, watching the waterfall from the overhanging rocks, and far away the snowy tops of the Misty Mountains.
Sometimes she crossed the bridge over to the other side of the South-Bruinen and there she could not help but sing, as she had in Lórien, peacefully sitting where the misty wetness of the descending water could not reach her.
And there it was, one afternoon, that she sang a tune she had learned from her mother when only a girl. Not having to remember the words, since they were so well-known to her. Climbing down the rocks; she had wanted to see the valley from as high up as she could safely go, she did not take notice of her surroundings. It was when she neared the bridge that she finally glimpsed up.
It was at that same moment that she stopped singing and heard a familiar rolling laugh echo all the way through the valley. Gil-galad stood on the rocks by the river on the other side, together with Glorfindel and Elrond.
Making sure she would not slip on her dress, she pulled it up and descended the last layer of rocks. From there she watched the three Elves, who seemed to be enjoying themselves, since further laughter commenced, as she remained unseen herself.
Gil-galad spoke with his hands, gesturing, stressing words as Glorfindel appeared to hurl them back with delight. This playful discussion seemed to be carefully observed by Elrond, and Celebrían could not see if he smiled, his back partially towards her. He wore robes in a colour she had not seen him wear before, a very light blue, almost the shimmering grey she herself was so fond of, the layers of fine fabric underneath much lighter in colour, almost white.
It seemed that suddenly Gil-galad and Glorfindel turned to Elrond in their light-hearted debate and he in turn left them to it, sporting a smile on his lips while rotating to watch the river.
Celebrían shuddered as his gaze fell upon her, and pretended she had not seen him, raising her voice and continuing her song as she slowly strode across the bridge. She was glad he could not see the blush on her cheeks.
Once across and out of sight, she picked up her pace and almost ran back to the garden that bordered on the chambers where she stayed with her parents.
Slightly panting she sat down on the lonely bench near the low stone wall and leaned back, taking a deep breath, laughing at herself.
Then she turned towards the valley and rested her elbows on the stone, drifting, dreaming, while the time slowly passed.
Though Elves do not need much sleep at any rate, Celebrían seemed to need even less, now that she was in Imladris. Already wide awake at daybreak, she passed over breakfast and made her way for the more hidden spots of the forest, planning to find the place where the water of the North-Bruinen plunged downward into the valley.
Though not commonly known to outsiders, Imladris lay between two small streams, generally referred to as the North- and South-Bruinen, which both originated in the Misty Mountains and came together at the Ford, there flowing on to meet the Mitheithel*, turning into the Gwathló*.
The riverbed of the South-Bruinen was less heavily forested than that of the North and it reminded Celebrían even more of Lórien, if that was possible. She listened to all the sounds of the forest as she walked beside the river on her bare feet. It wasn't as remote as she had expected. The sound of the waterfall could be heard from afar, and Celebrían only needed to follow her ears.
'It is not for nothing that they call the Bruinen the Loudwater.' Sounded a voice from nearby.
Celebrían was too surprised to recognise it immediately without seeing the face. Turning halfway to her left she recognised Elrond, standing only a few yards closer to the river and cascade.
He rested his hand on the bark of the tree, one of his feet placed higher because the mossy ground sloped steeply down to the riverbed. There was a less solemn air about him than normally. It could very well have something to do with his clothes. Instead of wearing his usual stately robes he now only wore trousers and a tunic, under a delicate but simple pastel auburn mantle, which fell off his shoulders like the water of the falls beyond.
'You startled me, Master Elrond.'
He bowed his head for a moment before looking up at her again.
'I didn't mean to, my Lady.'
Celebrían turned back and headed for the water, hoping he would follow.
Arriving at the pool below the waterfall she started to sing softly again.
Looking up, she stopped and addressed Elrond, who had indeed followed, yet stayed at the side of the riverbed, a small distance removed.
'My father seemed a little irritable after the Council.'
'He had an argument with Oropher. He and Thranduil have left this morning; it will soon pass, if it hasn't already.' Elrond returned as he climbed up the slope. 'There is a road that leads to the top of the fall into that direction.' He added, pointing.
'Not that I'm complaining, Master Elrond, but will they not miss you back home?' Celebrían asked teasingly.
'If we do not tarry I think we can make it up the waterfall and back again, before they'll send out a search party.' Elrond said as he walked past her with firm steps. Celebrían was not sure if he was teasing back or completely serious.
It was as they were half-way up the steep road that he explained his presence.
'I really came to find you, my Lady, since your parents have plans to depart soon and couldn't find you anywhere near.'
Celebrían looked at him absent-mindedly, suddenly overcome with a slight form of distress. She had feared this day since their arrival.
'Why did you not tell me immediately?'
'If you are to leave, could I let you go… without this view of Imladris?' He said, helping her up the final overgrown rock and showing her a truly breathtaking view of the valley and beyond.
'I am grateful you felt you couldn't.' Celebrían said, her eyes trying to take up as much of the view as possible. 'It is magnificent.'
They stayed for while before retracing their steps.
While doing so, they exchanged tales, and Celebrían wondered how he could bear listening to hers so intently. Surely he had heard more eloquent versions of those stories already? If he indeed had, it never showed.
When they re-entered the valley, Celebrían was disappointed. Preferably she would have walked around the forest with him much longer.
But her parents indeed seemed to be waiting for her as Elrond guided her into the garden. Celebrían knew her father still didn't want to go. She also knew, he would do anything to make her mother feel better, even if that meant travelling nearer to sea.
'Thank you for finding her, Elrond.'
Celebrían looked at her mother and decided not to object if she asked her to come. She had no intention of acting childishly in front of Elrond.
'Have you decided when to leave?' Elrond asked, his hands folded in front of him.
Galadriel smiled and nodded, her face radiant as ever.
'Tomorrow we shall begin our journey. Celeborn wishes to visit Lórien, before we travel south to Belfalas. He desires to cross the mountains here rather than going through Moria. If we waited any longer, the weather could become too treacherous, even to scale the lower reaches of the High Pass. If not for Lórien, we would have travelled south from here and taken the West Pass of Ered Nimrais* instead.'
'That would have been my choice, I believe.' Elrond stated.
'I would invite you to come to Belfalas with us, but I know better than to do that. You will not leave Imladris or Eriador for long, unless to keep it safe.'
'I hope that time might not come sooner than any of us wishes.'
'So do I,' Galadriel returned softly. But as their gazes met, they both knew that it would always be too soon.
The next morning, the entire household came to bid them farewell.
Celebrían could only exchange a quick smile with Elrond as he stood next to Gil-galad. Both seemed to be aware of the fact that the chance of meeting again diminished with every step Celebrían's horse took south.
It would indeed take many years.
When Gil-galad, some three years later, returned to Lindon, he took his leave of Imladris with a warning to Elrond:
'Keep your eyes and ears open, it is merely a matter of time.'
Lórinand is the name given to Lórien in the Unfinished Tales.
Mitheithel is Sindarin for Hoarwell
Gwathló is Sindarin for Greyflood
Ered Nimrais is Sindarin for the Mountains of the White Horns
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